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  • Take a complicated subject you know more about than most. Now explain it as if you were talking it over to a friend over coffee. Your friend knows nothing about it at all. See all answers
    • Wasting time - it's complicated
    • Hi and welcome to my little tutorial on Time Wasting. I'm happy to explain the concept of wasting time to you, but before I begin, let me tell you a little bit about my credentials. I've studied the art of wasting time, at TAFE and university level. My highest qualification so far is a Graduate Certificate in Wasting Time but I am considering going on to get a PHD in the subject. In my undergraduate studies, I majored in a specific unit called "Time Wasting Delusion Disorder", (TWDD) which is the study of the state of mind of a particular kind of time waster who often ends up feeling what's known as "Chronic Time Frustration". We will go into that in a moment.

      I feel that I'm well qualified to tutor you in this topic. Since finishing my university studies, I have diligently kept up my time wasting practice, pretty much daily. I manage to fit this around my paid work, and sometimes even fit a little bit in during my paid work, although unlike some types of time wasters, I generally keep my time wasting separate to my paid work. This means that I fit the profile of the average TWDD sufferer, who is generally a fairly conscientious person, both in work and outside of it, and actually abhors the idea of wasting time.

      Why does someone who is conscientious waste time, I hear you ask. A very good question. Well, it seems that some poor sods are cursed with a sense that every moment they are doing something (other than sleeping), the thing that they are doing should be useful and somehow enhance their life or the lives of others. Not in a huge, life-changing way (that would be a ridiculous pressure every moment of the day) but just in a small way. For example, the TWDD's reasoning goes along the lines that reading a novel is a more useful activity than watching a re-run of Seinfeld. Why? Well, because we all know that reading is a smarter activity than watching tv. It is more active, utilises your imagination, increases your vocabulary, and gives you material to write a blog post, in which you can sound literary and intelligent. Far more stimulating to the synapses than watching a Seinfeld episode you can already quote lines from.

      It's kind of like being lumped with a Protestant Work Ethic, without necessarily even being a Protestant. However, possibly unlike the average Protestant, the TWDD Sufferer finds it hard to work in mind-numbingly boring jobs, at banks or in retail, for example, and are happiest if their employment feels fulfilling and meaningful. It's even better if it's also hideously busy. That way, between all the reward of it being meaningful, and the stress of being continually busy, they are highly motivated at work not to stop and waste time.

      Outside of paid employment this person likes to feel everything they do has a useful purpose. This is the kind of person who doesn't watch much TV unless the program is either informative and educational or, if a drama or comedy, it is of some externally measured "high quality". You probably won't find this person watching "X-factor", "Funniest Home Videos" or "Border Security". No, they will instead be reading or doing something "useful" with their time upstairs on their laptop.

      The delusional disorder comes in to play at this point, where there is often a great disparity between the TWDD sufferer's vague intentions, and what, in reality, pans out. Say, for example, the poor TWDD sufferer has vague intentions that in any of her spare time, she will write. Writing, like reading, is clearly useful, for reasons that I probably don't have to expound upon to you, dear reader. If you aim to write, then imagination, vocabulary, insight, interest - all of these words and more are required.

      Take for example, a case where the TWDD sufferer has a 4 day weekend. She thinks to herself that this is heaven! It's enough time to do a. household chores for her second job that always needs something done at home on the weekend, c. spending time with family and friends, and d. writing. Why, with that much time she may not only write 1, or 2 blog posts, but even start an essay or story to send out to a literary magazine, something she hasn't made time to do for over a year. The vague long term desire is that eventually she will start sending out so many pieces of writing that she will discover that she is now a freelance writer and can write all day long for payment.

      Skip to day 4 of the 4 day weekend. Our TWDD sufferer has: eaten out, wandered up Chapel Street, been to 2 movies with partner and/or child, washed the cat vomit off the doona cover, done the grocery shopping, washed many sets of dishes and loads of laundry, pegged out said loads of laundry and brought them back in again, helped her daughter select a photo to enter into a competition and heard her read her book presentation for school, done some work for her second job, and stripped the sheets off the bed. All useful and necessary things, some of which were also very enjoyable.

      She has also: on a sudden whim, spent nearly a whole day spring cleaning her daughter's room and then the storage space upstairs, throwing out lots of old odds and ends, and taking a huge bag of old toys to the Opportunity Shop. Read people's posts on Facebook and Twitter. Read other people's blogs. Read sections of the book she is currently reading. Watched an old episode of Get Smart. Suddenly on a whim, spent time filing a pile of photos saved on her laptop. Tried a few times to start a new post and not written anything that held her interest. It's 5pm on day 4 and tomorrow she'll be back at work. Some of these things were not really so necessary, and some, although useful, could be said to have been time wasting in view of the goal, which was to really spend some serious time writing.

      Now, what happens to our TWDD sufferer when this occurs? Chronic Time Frustration kicks in, whereby she feels a huge sense of frustration that there is never enough time. She does not have enough time to get even a blog post written, let alone the essay or story that she just knows she could write if she had time. She gets grumpy and snappy because the day is coming to an end, dinner needs to be made, and somewhere inside her there is a brilliant post that she wanted to write and hasn't. Or an essay that she could have drafted, that might have eventually led to something being published. That might have eventually led to a change in career. But she hasn't achieved any of that because she wasted her time.

      Fortunately, dear reader, the above is just a fictional example. As you can see, I am not the poor sod of a Time Waster that I used to illustrate my point, because I have managed to write a post, and it's only.....oh shite, it's 5.25pm and I need to make the dinner. Excuse me.

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